Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our Christmas Eve Tradition




It started about four years ago when Wally and I had yet another failed cycle, and I felt I couldn't face anyone except him on Christmas Eve. It was just too hard for me to sit around with a smile plastered on my face while others shared in the merriment. I knew I had to do it for Christmas but two days in a row was just torture - I can only be so fake. That Christmas, I asked Wally if he wouldn't mind if it could just be us. He agreed knowing the pain he and I were both in at the time. We went to a later mass (7:30 pm) where I knew there weren't going to be many children present. What I failed to realize is that after the Eucharist, the lights are dimmed and Silent Night is played. Well, I cried and cried and cried but the thing is I still do even after Benjamin has come into our lives -- dimmed lights and beautifully moving Christmas music gets to me every time. After the mass, we decided to get something to eat with very little choices we got Chinese at Hunan Taste. We ate duck and had champagne then headed out to see some Christmas lights. After the lights, we headed back home and waited for Santa to arrive.
Not much has changed, we did go to mass earlier this year. With Benjamin having a breakdown and the Assumption being packed to the gills, I was the only one that remained until the end of church to hear Silent Night. Wally and Ben picked me back up 20 minutes after I called him. As the time approached 20 minutes, I started to walk home in rain crying thinking something horrible happened to Wally and Ben. When I finally saw our Tahoe high-beaming me in the middle of the street, I got in the car and burst into tears. I cried, "I thought you feel and were knocked on conscious and Benjamin was sitting there trying to wake you up, crying in the rain." While I sobbed, my beautiful son from the backseat said, "ba ba it's ok, ba ba it's ok." It took a glass of champagne at Hunan Taste to finally calm me down. And because we went to mass earlier, there was a huge wait at the restaurant. We made it through apps but Ben had enough so the duck and Seafood Country Style was wrapped to-go. We saw a few lights and headed home to wait for the arrival of Santa. And our Christmas Eve tradition continues.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not Your Typical Grandmother


You would never put my Grandmother in the "sweet, little old lady" category. Not that she isn't sweet. It's just that she isn't your typical Grandmother. Yes, she knits and reads bedtime stories but she also says and does some pretty outrageous things. Let's put it this way at my third grade "Grandparents Day" my Grandmother came in on roller skates and announced to the class with arms wide open, "I AM JENNIFER BAKER'S GRANDMOTHER!" I think she also bowed too.
Needless to say, holiday get-togethers with Granny tend to be interesting. Need examples? Here are two of my favorite. For some reason, the subject of funerals came up (not sure why). Grandma proceeded to tell her daughters and grandchildren that she would like a Viking Funeral. What is a Viking Funeral? It is when you send the deceased out on a wooden raft surrounded by fire kindling and from the shore line your fellow Vikings (or in our case friends and family) shoot flaming arrows at the raft so the raft and deceased burn and the ashes are spread in the Ocean. You think, "oh she must be kidding." She's not. So guess who is probably going to have to find the permit for this when she dies.
Perhaps my all time favorite, everyone thought it would be nice if Granny took a picture with all her many grandchildren. So as we gathered to take the picture someone commented, "boy there sure are a lot of us." Just so you have a frame of reference my Grandmother had 7 children. At that point my Grandmother says, "well, if I didn't like sex so much none of you would have been here." Need I say more.
This year was no exception, apparently she commented how she would really find an adult bib useful. So my Aunt Chris had one made up for her. Was my Granny insulted no, she actually loved it and asked could she get more.
People may call her crazy and some others have said she has started to lose her wits about her but I say I would rather be considered crazy than boring - it makes life more fun. However, I think Wally said it best on the car ride home that night, "Boy, I love your grandmother. People may say she is losing her wits about her, but I say the people that claim this don't have any wit themselves." You couldn't be more right Wally.

Choo Choo!

While Santa might not have been a hit, the train ride certainly was for Benjamin. From the moment the train started to chug from the station, Benjamin was mesmerized by the scenes flashing by the window. He sat for almost an hour straight on his Dad's lap glued to the happenings outside. Along the way, he would call out the sites he saw like cars, digger trucks, Frosty, trees and birds.
The Kamienski Family gives the Santa Train a big "thumbs up" (minus the Santa) !



Sunday, December 28, 2008

Benjamin's Thoughts on Santa...

As I have been told by countless Moms, there is always a year when your child just isn't that into Santa. Don't get me wrong they love the gifts but if you try to sit them on Santa's lap or put your child in the arms of Santa an uncomfortable scene usually follows.
The Christmas of 2008 is Benjamin's year to feel this way. It started when I was shopping in early December and Santa must have been on a break and was headed back to the "set-up" North Pole in the middle of the mall. I motioned to Benjamin to check out Santa and I knew right away this was the year. My usually friendly son gave Santa a look that said, "don't think of coming too close big man." But in my optimistic parenting mind I thought, "maybe this will pass."
A little more than two weeks before Christmas, we booked a ride on the Santa Train at the Whippany Rail Museum. My thought was in a setting that Benjamin enjoys maybe he would warm up to Jolly Ole' Saint Nick. Wrong. While Benjamin didn't kick and scream like I have seen other children meltdown when faced by with being put in the arms of Santa, he did hide his head and cling to me.
So family and friends this is it, this is Benjamin's 2008 picture (see above) with Santa. I did admit to my Mom I felt bad that I didn't get the traditional mall photo with Santa and Benjamin. Maybe I should have tried but the thought of standing in a LONG line only to be disappointed and aggravated at the end didn't seem to be fun for anyone involved. My Mom agreed, "why torture him Jennifer?" Of course, there is always 2009 but I still love this picture because it has my favorite boy in it. Sorry Santa maybe next year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

While my birthday was back on the 9th of the month, I just wanted to thank my husband for a very lovely day. As I have mentioned to a few, the day started off a little shaky but it ended up being one of those perfect days. From getting a beautiful picture with my son in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to taking a stroll in Central Park with my family, the day couldn't have been any better.
Yes, I am getting older and yes I would have loved the gift of Botox for my birthday but I also think I am getting wiser (think is the operative word in the sentence). I realize now it isn't about the gifts (while the gifts are still cool) having such incredible family and friends to share it with are what makes birthday's special. Thank you to all my friends and family for making me feel so special each year and every day of the year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

We Got A Christmas Tree And So Much More...

A few weeks ago, in fact the first weekend in December, we purchased our Christmas tree. It was a Saturday morning and the family was eating breakfast at our favorite spot, the Minuteman. We had already decided that after some nourishment we would be heading out to a "cut your own tree" farm. While I was reading Wally the birthday game (what is the bday game? the bday game is when you try and guess the ages of the celebrities birthdays of that day) from The Star-Ledger, I noticed an article about a Christmas tree event in Ringwood New Jersey at the Audubon Society (there is an official name but I can't remember -- Wally can you?). Anyway, since we didn't have any idea of where one of these Christmas tree farms were located, we thought this would be a great option. Not only could you purchase a Christmas tree with the profits, literally, going to the birds, there were a host of fun activities to partake in, and boy, did we ever take advantage of the "free" activities.
When we got there, we realized we wouldn't be chopping down any trees. I guess I misread but that seemed to ok with the Wally and Ben. Going early to pick up a tree, we got the pick of the liter -- a rather tall, shaped like a triangle, douglas fir. Benjamin was happy, Wally was happy and I was happy with the choice (I've been known to cry with a bad tree choice). What usually takes us about 15 minutes or more to pick out a tree, take about a minute. Our tree was the first we looked at that day. The bird folk said they would tie the tree to the car while we enjoyed the activities.
Our first stop, to check out the hawk. We had to keep a bit of a distance out of fear of Benjamin trying to pet the bird, but we got the great picture below. Next, we made a bird feeder and ornaments (no pictures but the feeder is in a tree outside and the ornament is on the tree inside). Following the craft projects, we headed in for cocoa and apple juice. And it doesn't end there, after the refreshments, Benjamin got his face painted for the first time with who else but Frosty! Finally, Benjamin got to pet a few snakes all this when getting a Christmas tree.









Santa Claus Comes to Morristown

If you look very closely in the background, you will see Santa (if you can't, just imagine -- believe me he is there).
For the past 100 years, Santa has arrived in Morristown on the roof of Century 21 (the former Macy's) then brought down to the adoring masses via a fire truck. This year, the Kamienski Family members were present for his arrival. While Wally and I cheered, Benjamin was looking to head back in doors where it was a bit warmer. I don't really blame him - it was mighty chilly out that night. Ben seemed to be more interested in the fire truck than the big guy in the red suit. Having gauged his level of interest, we decided not to wait in a long line to see him but rather go to visit Santa when the crowds died down. (P.S. We still haven't visited Santa in The Green -- maybe this weekend).

Let Me Tell You About My Morning...

It started out as a regular Monday until we heard a knock at the door. Wally and I were getting ready in our dressing room and Benjamin was still fast asleep. We first heard a normal knock. It raised our curiosity who was knocking on our door at 8 am but we thought nothing of it. Then someone started banging very loudly on the door that's when Wally started getting angry and I started getting nervous. I then looked at the window as Wally yelled down, "I'm coming!" What I saw was a cop car and yelled down to tell Wally so. As Wally answered the door, I threw my robe on to find them asking Wally to step outside. The second cop stepped inside the house asking me if there was a problem? I was shocked, what exactly was going on here. I then heard the cop saying to Wally, "you seem agitated." Wally responded, "yes you are practically busting down my door for no reason." I asked my cop what the issue was and he told me someone called in a serious "issue" happening at our house. I know what you are thinking, were Wally and I in a heated fight? No, in fact, we were both in a pretty decent mood that morning and didn't utter an ill word towards each other. Not once was a voice raised this morning. I then asked what the issue was that was reported. Now hold on to your hats. I was told by the cop the dispatcher received a call that there was a woman with a knife harming a child. I looked the cop in the eye and said, "you must have the wrong address." The cop called the dispatcher and dispatcher confirmed the address and story. This is when I heard "murder" and "knife". The cop then asked me if I was "nervous" or "hiding anything" "did my husband hurt me". I told the officer "nothing of the sort had happened here that morning and they better check their source out."
After giving our names, Wally and I were "released". We were then given "the speech" of how they have to consider all calls like this serious, blah, blah, blah.
Now, I was scared. What if there was a murderer in the neighborhood wielding a knife? Wally decided to wait until they checked the situation out with the neighbor that called in the false claim. Turns out we have a senile old woman living next door who claims that she saw a child be harmed in our residence. Good to know we have a crazy lady living next door -- who thinks we are harming children.
If that wasn't enough, Wally went to start the Saab this morning and it wouldn't start. Happy Monday to The Kamienski Family!

We Can't Let This Bank Fail...

As you sit around the dinner table for your holiday meal please try to keep in mind that not everyone can enjoy such an opulent meal as you can. I consider myself blessed and fortunate that my family can afford to have a decadent meal on Christmas day but there are families that can't afford to feed their children today and it is something that just shouldn't be!
Today more than 100 New Jersey bloggers have banded together to help raise awareness of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, which is in dire need of our help.
Here's what you can do to help:Make a monetary contribution: Visit http://www.njfoodbank.org/. Donate food: Drop off a bag of food at your local food pantry. Click here to find a food pantry near you: http://www.sefan.org/. Organize a food drive: We can help explain the logistics of starting a food drive. Just call 908-355-FOOD. Help "Check Out Hunger:" Look for the "Check Out Hunger" coupons at your local supermarket and donate. No donation is too small! Remember the reason for the season!
Check out these sobering facts:
  • More than 35 million Americans, including 12 million children, either live with or are on the verge of hunger. - USDA, Household Food Security in the United States, 2006
  • The number of families coming to churches and food banks trying to get help to feed their families has increased approximately 20 percent. - National Anti-Hunger Organizations, 2008 Blueprint to End Hunger
  • According to a recent survey, 6 percent of Americans said they or someone in their immediate family has gone to bed hungry in the past month because they could not afford enough food. - 2008 Hormel Hunger Survey
  • One out of every five New Jersey families does not earn enough to afford the basic necessities – housing, food and child care – although 85 percent of these households have at least one family member who is working. – Poverty Research Institute, June 2008
  • In New Jersey alone, an estimated 250,000 new clients will be seeking sustenance this year from the state’s food banks. – “No Food on the table,” By Judy Peet, The Star-Ledger, Oct. 23, 2008
  • At the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), requests for food have gone up 30 percent, but donations are down by 25 percent. - CFBNJ
  • Warehouse shelves that are typically stocked with food are bare and supplies have gotten so low that, for the first time in its 25 year history, the food bank is developing a rationing mechanism. - CFBNJ

Help a family today!

Here is the full list of participating Bloggers for “We Can’t Let This Bank Fail” campaign. Visit their blogs and show some love.

1) JerseyBites2) RedBankGreen.com3) Jersey Girl Cooks4) Simply Sable5) John and Lisa are eating in South Jersey6) Padma's Kitchen7) Chefdruck8) Life Lightly Salted9) My Italian Grandmother10) Cook Appeal11) Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars12) Mommy Vents13) This Full House14) Paper Bridges15) Motherhood Avenue16) The Kamienski Chronicles 17) Down the Shore with Jen 18) Fits and Giggles19) House Hubbies Home Cooking20) Nourish Ourselves21) Partybluprints.com22) Tommyeats.com 23) Off the broiler 24) Mrs. Mo’s New Jersey Baby 25) IamNotaChef.com 26) SimplyBeer.com 27) HistoryGeek.com28) Savy Source Newark29) Momlogic New Jersey 30) SurvivingNJ.com/blog31) SurvivingNJ.blogspot.com32) JerseyGirlGuide.com 33) Best of Roxy34) Citizen Mom.net35) Lynetteradio.com36) Jersey Beat 37) Pop Vulture Phil38) JerseySmarts.com39) LongBeachIslandSummers.com40) WildwoodSummers.com 41) Mike Halfacres Blog 42) Somerset08873 43) Family, Friends and Food44) KateSpot.com45) NewJerseyMomsBlog.com46) JCRegister.com47) New Jersey Real Estate Report48) Riverviewobserver.com49) More Monmouth Musings50) Man of Infirmity51) Another Delco Guy in South Jersey52) SweetNicks.com53) Average Noone54) Cleary’s Notebook55) Welcome to my Planet56) The Center of New Jersey Life57) Sharon’s Food Blog58) Morristown, Chatham, Summit, and Madison NJ Real Estate59) Midtown Direct Real Estate News60) New Jersey Real Estate 61) BlowUpRadio.com62) LazlosDen.com63) The Ridgewood Blog64) Book a Week with Jen65) Banannie66) Cartoongoddess.com67) Matawan Advocate68) Take Back the Kitchen69) The Joy of Toast70) Route 5571) Montclair Kids.com72) SaveJersey73) Stompbox74) Joe the Blogger75) Environmental Republican76) Stacey Snacks77) Subversive Garden78) New Jersey Pathfinder79) Cooking With Friends Blog80) Triple Venti81) Read All About It82) Rich Lee on Media83) Likelihood of Success84) Cape Cuisine85) The Business At Hand86) NewJerseyTaxRevolution87) Figmentations88) MiddletownMike89) Caviar and Codfish90) A Day in the Life91) Mack’s Journey Through Life92) Alice’s Restaurant93) Tiger Hawk94)Politics Patrol, The Bob Ingle Blog95) The Food Chain96) Henson’s Hell97) Cranbury Conservative98) Baristanet99) New Jersey: Politics Unusual100) Jersey Shore Blog101) Plainfield Today102) Beacon Bulletin103) Journal Square Jersey City 07306

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Love a Parade ( better this year)!

Each year, since Coyne PR (my current employer) has had an office in Times Square, Tom has generously thrown a party to enjoy the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Wally and I decided last year to take Benjamin in and invite the Valentin family as well. Last year, we ran into a bit of trouble and thought we would never make the parade. We got in the city just as they closed 42nd street to pedestrians and we had to take a subway to Grand Central walk down to 45 street and beg a cop to let us down the block to get to the building. This year, we promised not to make the same mistake and repeat the stressful episode.
We picked up my Mom at around 7:45 and made our way into NYC. We parked right on 42nd street and started to make the journey through the masses to our building. While my heart was still beating rapidly thinking we were not going to make it again, we had no problems whatsoever! We met the Valentin Family again in front of the building and made our way up. And this year, it was PACKED! We found a not so crowded office that Benjamin could squeeze by the window and watch the parade go by. As I was preparing to take a picture of Benjamin by the window, I noticed my battery was dead so sorry no pictures to accompany this blog (you will all just have to visual the moment). I wasn't sure how he was going to react to the parade if he would get bored in a minute or two but he actually watched the parade and helped point various details out to me including spotting Cookie Monster in a window of a float (the kid has good eyes).
Eventually the office got way to warm and our group made our way downstairs to the street, Wally put Benjamin up on his shoulders to get a better view of the action. Ben yelled with excitement each time a new balloon passed. At one point, he did want to get down and run around but with Mom, Dad, Grandma and Aunt Kristi around he wasn't getting a step away from the circle we formed around him.
We headed back up after Michael saw the Pokemon balloon. We also didn't want to miss the visit from Santa. As we settled in upstairs, the arrival of Santa was announced and we headed to the elevator banks to greet him but the joint was crammed with wall to wall kids. I made my way up with Ben in my arms as close as possible. As we waited for Ben's gift, I guess Ben got, literally, tired of waiting because in the midst of the mayhem he fell asleep.
Benjamin slept but woke up while waiting for our car but was pleasantly surprised to see a new dump truck gift from Santa. We all piled in the car and headed back to Jersey every one having enjoyed the parade. What a difference a year makes!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cow Books

While I was off the week of Thanksgiving, Benjamin and I made our first visit to the local library. Instead of taking the stroller, we decided (that would be me) to walk since the Morristown library is only one block away. Benjamin walked most of the way but he started to tilt a little backwards as the hill got steeper so I thought it best to pick him up at that point before he tumbled over due to gravity.

We headed in and made our way up to the new (well pretty new about 2 years old) children's section of the library. As soon as we entered, he yelled BOOKS! While Benjamin does watch his share of television, I have created a balanced environment for him which includes reading him LOTS of books. Benjamin is read so many books he actually asks for books by name now including "ni-ght ni-ght oon" or better known as Goodnight Moon.

After yelling books, he began running around the library. At that point, I had to try to contain the level of excitment. So I asked him to use his inside voice, which I'm not sure he gets the concept yet, and asked him to pick out a book with Mommy so we could read a new story at the library. He wasn't digging the books Mommy picked out so I asked him what book he wanted to read and he told me, "cow books ba-ba." So we started our search for some cow books but trying to look for a cow book while trying to control a toddler was nearly impossible. My solution, of course, ask the librarian. Benjamin and I went to the librarian and I asked Benjamin to tell the librarian what he was looking for and he told her too, "cow books." And cow books, we got! From Click, Click Moo to No Milk!, the librarians were able to find us a wonderful selection of cow books to read. Armed with a pile of books, we got a library card and checked out. It was then I realized why people carry around book totes. How was I going to get six hard covered books home (without a stroller) and Ben? While it was probably the toughest one block I have ever walked, balancing books and a child in my arms (oh yes and purse), we made it home safe and sound. Ready to read our books!

Benjamin has fallen so in love with his library books I am afraid to return them but the beauty of the library is that there are whole new set of adventures waiting to be discovered. While he will miss his cow friends and asks for them by name now (I may have to buy Click, Click Moo), he'll learn to love a new set of friends. Maybe it will be pigs this time?

Benjamin's First Sentence

Here is Benjamin's first sentence:
"More milk please and cookie too"
Guess what Benjamin got...

The Story of Benjamin's Tree

Before there was Ben, a majestic old tree stood in the corner of the yard. When Wally and I bought our house almost ten years ago, the tree, while old, still had some life left in it. About four years back, we went away on a weekend road trip, we returned to find an enormous tree limb was laying in the middle of our driveway. Our majestic tree was dying. The same exact scenario happened yet again and the tree stood with one limb, we knew it had to go (and also before it ruined a car or seriously injured a passerby). The tree came down and there was a void in our yard.
Around the same time the tree was dying, Wally and I were struggling to have a baby. The corner of the yard wasn't the only empty place for us at that time. When we finally received the news that we were indeed having a child, we knew how we wanted to commemorate the occasion, we would plant a tree for our first born -- new life for new life.
Just like Benjamin, who was only a small peanut when we brought him home, Ben's tree barely reached the top of the fence now it soars. This fall, we took a picture of Benjamin with his tree and I was in awe of both. Our Benjamin is now a little man becoming a funny, loving soul. While our tree is something that brings us beauty and wonder in our yard -- my how they have grown.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why Does John Gogarty Hate Me?

Here is what a, supposed, friend wrote to me right before Thanksgiving...
What are the chances that I will shortly be reading a blog entitled: “A lot to be Thankful For…”

- Looking at ben enjoying stuffing and how much you love stuffing
- Your mom sharing the secret baker recipe for gravy
- Your dad showing walter how to carve the turkey
- How ben loves stuffing and how cute it is that he calls it tuffing!
- Thankful that JB is back from iraq
- Seeing your son with Walter watching football – the two most important men in your life
- And then … I cried.
- Boo boo boo…

Why the anger?

NJ Moms Blog - I've Been Cross-Posted and Syndicated!

As most of you know, I started writing for NJ Moms Group and it has resulted in some great news lately. The following post on my struggles with infertility must have struck a cord because SVMoms Group cross-posted it to all their other sites:
http://svmomblog.typepad.com/new_jersey_moms_blog/2008/11/draft--if-a-man.html
And most know this already because I had to shout out to the world, but my post on telling white lies to Benjamin was picked up for syndication:
http://svmomblog.typepad.com/new_jersey_moms_blog/2008/11/draft---honesty.html
If you get a chance stop by the blog and check out some of the other fantastic writers!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Where is Max and Ruby's Mommy?


"Max and Ruby, Ruby and Max, Ruby and her little brother Max"...ahhhh and so the song goes. If you have a child between the ages of 1-4 (yes, I know if you have a one year old they shouldn't be watching any TV but I am realist and TV lover), you will probably know who I mean when I mention the names Max and Ruby. And if not, for a brief synopsis, they are the lovable brother and sister bunnies on Nick's pre-school channel Noggin.

As Max and Ruby played in the background, Wally said that him and his colleague were just talking about the bunny siblings. My first thought was "oh how much my life has changed that my husband is conversing about cartoon rabbits" then my second thought was "is there a special on for the holiday season I don't know about?". It was neither but it was something that has been bugging me as well. His colleague said, "do you notice they never show Max and Ruby's parents?".

Now yes we do often get a visit from Grandma but the key word there is a "visit". Grandma doesn't live with Max and Ruby. In fact, I recall a recent episode were these two crazy kids got on a bus to visit dear ole' Grandma. Who is raising these bunnies? I know they get some parental guidance from Ruby's Bunny Scout Leader but where are the parents I ask you? Neither Mom nor Dad are involved with Bunny Scouts -- is it too much to ask for them to be a den leader? I guess it is since they don't even help poor Ruby bake a cake for Grandma's birthday they leave the girl to bake her own cake while watching out for mischievous Max. Also what is wrong with Louise's (Ruby's best pal) parents that they let her come over all time without any parents in site to watch out for them?

Another question, is Ruby raising her little brother without parents? Are they orphans? It looks so to me. And if that is the case, why hasn't Grandma taken them in? So many questions...why, why, why? Though, I have to take my hat off to Ruby you are doing a fine job of raising your little brother and yourself with little or no help from your parents. Well done Ruby, well done.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Church and Children


This Sunday as Wally and I sat in church and Ben was acting like an angel. I thanked God for the small blessing but I spoke to soon...
During the "Our Father" and right before peace, Ben started whining, grunting and pointed towards the back of the church. Wally and I both asked several times what it was and what he was pointing at that he seemed to want us to recognize so badly. Frustrated with him for not communicating with us better, I said, "Benjamin use your words. You know how to speak." As the church was silent, Ben screams, "OUTSIDE!" -- and not just once but what seemed to be like a hundred times in a row. Wally then turns to me and says, "Are you happy Jenn? He used his words."

Benjamin's First Emergency and Wally's First Minor Heart Attack Part II: The Dentist



A friend had read the post concerning Ben's first emergency the other day and called to ask what had happened. After the conversation, I promised her a follow up to what did happen to Ben's tooth.
As requested by the dentist, we scheduled an appointment two days following the trauma (her words not mine) to see if there were any issues. But, before I tell you about Ben's experience at the dentist for the first time, I want to pay homage to my childhood dentist Dr. Regan (Mom can you confirm the name?). I'm not a big fan of doctors in general, though I have started to become braver and more tolerant in that department. However, lumped in that category was never "the dentist". I actually remember enjoying my visits to the dentist. Even when I had to have my teeth filed -- not filled, filed...sorry for the cringing, I still didn't hold it against Dr. Regan. On the other hand, I'm not sure how much my son is agreeing with my love of children's dentists at the moment.
Picked out of the phone book, we went to Children's Dentistry of Morristown and Ben meet with the very lovely Dr. Suzy (who also has a Ben). Upon entering, he was thrilled to find a box filled with dinosaurs. However, the first thing that pissed him off was having to leave the dinosaurs to see Dr. Suzy. He calmed down pretty quickly but was fired back up again when asked to smile so the dental hygienist could stick something in his mouth. Even a truck sticker didn't do much good to soothe the savage beast. While we waited for Dr. Suzy, Ben wanted out of the room. He eventually, pretty quickly actually, figured out how to open the door of the examining room. While trying to escape, he ran into the doctor who brought him back into the dreaded room. At that point, Ben was cool with her. Until, she started poking around his mouth. Ben started screaming and his face became a bright red. I think he was kicking too. Thank god Wally was there as well because one of us had to calm Ben down while the other listened to what the doctor had to say. Above the screams, we heard that everything was fine. In fact, that if he had to have an accident this was probably our best bet. The tooth isn't loose and may be pushed back into place (somewhat) by Ben's tongue. Eventually, the tooth will fall out when he is about 5 or 6 which is the norm.
After the assessment, we commented to her how it bummed Wally and me out that this happened because his teeth are so darn perfect. Then she dropped the orthodontist bomb on us..."well, we actually like to see more space between the teeth because his adult teeth are about tooth and a half larger." Sorry, Ben. Looks like braces are in your future.
As we were leaving, Dr. Suzy and her staff tried to make it up to Ben by giving him stickers, tub toys, tooth brushes and a token to get something in the gumball machine in the lobby. This seemed to make the frown on his face disappear. The frown came back pretty quickly when we wouldn't let him leave with one of the office's matchbox cars.
Am I looking forward to the next visit? No but I think Ben will warm up to this dentist thing. Either that or we'll need to promise him lots of toys after each visit.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Benjamin's First Emergency and Wally's First Minor Heart Attack

As the saying goes, "Boys will be Boys" which means they are bound to get into some trouble. Sometimes this trouble involves emergency calls and visits to the hospital. From my own personal experience, boys tend to visit the emergency room more than girls. Take for example my brother and I, I have been to the emergency room once in my life. On the other hand, before the time my brother was 4, he was probably there about 5-10 times (or at least it seemed that way). While they were all "accidents", it seemed trouble followed him (and still does).

As the mom of an overactive son, I knew an emergency call was going to happen sooner rather than later. I highly doubted that he would follow in his Mom's footsteps but rather more like his Dad who has had his share of broken body parts and stitches. The call came on Monday. I was at work ready to hit the bricks at around 5:30 (which is super unusual for me -- call it mother's instincts) when I received a call from Wally on my cell. The conversation was odd. Wally acting very formal. I knew something had to be wrong. After the formalities, he told me that there had been an accident with Ben (the now worst phrase in the English language). I asked if he was okay. He explained very calmly, but with a slight edge in his voice, that he had put a blanket on his head (something he likes to do that we discourage) and was walking around when he fell into the coffee table. Wally also said that there was a lot of blood but it had finally stopped. The worst of it was that his tooth was now pushed back -- his fabulously straight teeth were now not so perfect. I asked, most importantly, how was Ben feeling and Wally said that he had calmed down --though I heard his cries in the background.

I rushed out of work without looking back to head home to my injured son. I cursed every driver along the way. Why is it every time you need to get someplace the world's slowest driver has to box you in? With my road rage flaring, I made it home in one piece to see Ben. And Ben was Ben, all smiles like nothing ever happened. I asked Ben to open his mouth so I could assess the situation and my heart broke when I saw his little front bottom tooth pushed all the way towards the back of his mouth. I also noticed the blood all over Wally's shirt at the same time. Wally and I both looked at each other what should we do?

Before I finish the rest of the story, let me start off by saying contrary to popular belief I am not a hypochondriac mother. In fact, up until that very moment, I had never called in an emergency to the doctor. But with Ben's tooth looking sad and Wally's shirt splattered in blood, I knew the time had come to make the "off hours" call. I first called Ben's Pediatrician and they said as long as (and I quote) "his lip isn't busted" then I should call a dentist to see if he could be seen. Next issue, Ben is under 2 and hasn't seen a dentist yet. So I opened up the phone book and found the name of a children's dentist in Morristown. Thankfully, it happened to be one of the best calls I have made. I was hesitant to make the emergency page to the doctor but I said F-it. I realized at that moment I didn't care what the dentist thought of me my son's health was more important than a doctor's possible snide "another overprotective mom" comment. The dentist called me immediately back. She was completely understanding and actually said that I did the right thing by calling. I was given specific instructions by the dentist and was asked to bring him in on Wednesday.
That night, I hugged Benjamin tighter than I ever have before. I also said a prayer of Thanksgiving to God knowing that we could have been dealing with much worse. I think Wally and I also learned a little bit about ourselves that night. I think we both learned that when a crisis/emergency happens we can be brave enough to handle it when it comes to Ben.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To My Brother, Happy Veterans Day

Probably the worst month of my life was the month the Iraq Conflict began. My brother John, a Marine, was the first to battle. In fact, his troop were the Marines who got in trouble for raising the American flag over Basra. His troop was also featured on 60 Minutes 2 (when that was still around) and a Reuters reporter was embedded with them taking compelling photos of their every move.
At the time, the media was the only way if we knew my brother was dead or alive. We were a desperate family. When we saw his face on 60 Minutes, Wally and I got a call from our friend John saying that he thought he saw them. I called my parents immediately who had already gotten a phone call from a nephew saying that he thought they saw him too. While it was a brief glimpse, we knew he was alive -- at least for that moment. We ordered copies of the footage and rewound and played several hundred times just to see his face. In the deep recesses of our minds, I knew we were all thinking the unthinkable, will this be the last image? Other the month, additional images from Reuters confirmed he was indeed still okay.
People often asked, 'did you talk with your brother? how is he doing?'. My response would be (because I wasn't in the mood for dumb questions and yes there are dumb questions), 'He's not one of those soldiers on the sidelines. He is actually one of the Marines fighting this war.' I couldn't eat or sleep. I was miserable to be around. I cried often and considered going on Prozac. Every phone call I received I expected the worst. As I saw hundreds of soldiers names reported as dead, the pain became harder and harder to take. I did the only thing I could do. I made him a PR darling. He was featured in The Bergen Record, The Star Ledger and even on MSNBC as the boy who always wanted to be a Marine - a true American hero. I attended rallies for the troops and supported my brother's efforts with yellow ribbons and pins for all who wanted them.
At the end of that month, I received the call that I had been waiting for. To hear my brother's voice, alive and well was like nothing I could ever put into words. It was a blessing my family will never take for granted.
If you don't agree with the politics of war, just know that there a real people/families that are effected by war each and every day. My family was one of the lucky ones. We still have my brother that I can call anytime of the day to say hello but other families don't have that luxury, that blessing anymore. So today on Veteran's Day, I salute my brother for his bravery and courage in the face of conflict. He is my American hero.

Product Recall - Mylicon

When Benjamin was a baby, the poor dear was very gassy. While I tried to curb my love of veggies during the time I was nursing, my boy suffered from my diet. He would get so upset and his little face would turn red with pain from the gas pocket. I couldn't take it anymore so I started giving him Mylicon. Then, my best friend in the world, suggested something called Gripe Water (a more natural alternative) that helped do the trick.
Today, I wanted to post a warning about a recent recall involving Mylicon (see below). I know MANY mothers consider it an answer to their prayers but they might want to refrain from using it for the time being or at least check out the lot number to see if they have an affected product. The post below also provides some more "natural" alternatives to calming a gassy baby.
http://ecochildsplay.com/2008/11/11/mylicon-recall-popular-gas-relief-product-may-contain-metal/

Monday, November 10, 2008

Last Minute Parents


Wally and I feel it necessary for Benjamin to experience all he can (and we can cram in) including all the seasonal traditions. The week leading up to Halloween every day and night we would say to each other, "you know we have to carve those pumpkins." So because, we are busy and more importantly procrastinators, on Halloween day the pumpkins still were not carved. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't have that "moment" where Ben was watching/helping us carve the pumkins -- pumpkin guts all over his hands, laughs shared, pictures taken. However, after returning from dinner and washing Ben up, I noticed Wally was missing and the porch light was on. There Wally was gutting pumpkins. I asked him the obvious, "what are you doing." He responded, "come outside and carve your pumpkin." I said, "Ben's in his pjs!" Because my husband is the more carefree one of the group, "he said who cares." He was right, who cares.
I put Ben's dog slippers on and a jacket with hood and together we made our way outside. While it wasn't the Norman Rockwell moment I wanted, as I was trying to carve the pumpkin Ben insisted on jumping on my back and biting me (laughing the whole time) and he also tried to pick up the carving knife more than one time, we did get the tradition in under the wire. Go Wally and me! Another moment down, a million more memories to make.

People Scare Me

If Halloween wasn't scary enough, check out the freak show that kept on meowing at Ben. It seemed nice at first but then she wouldn't talk - she just meowed and hissed. Lady, he's one year old stop scaring him and me. P.S. You are dressed up as a cat - you aren't actually a cat.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Halloween! (Better late than never)

Yes, Halloween was a week ago but it is never too late to say Happy Halloween (well maybe in January it would be). Benjamin celebrated his second Halloween in 2008 in monkey-rific style. As compared to last year, he was actually able to trick or treat with the big boys and girls. Last year, he made special visits to family members but was unable to enjoy his treats.
Apparently, unbeknown to Wally and I, there is a big Halloween celebration on South Street were hundreds or children show up to trick or treat. After a visit from his grandparents, Wally, Ben and I headed up to South Street for this supposed Halloween happening and it was true there were hundreds of kids trick or treating all throughout town. Where had Wally and I been living -- under a rock on Halloween day?
I held Ben's fire truck basket while he asked for the treats and showed great manners as he thanked everyone -- even the cheap merchants who gave away tiny tootsie rolls and breath mints. His favorite by far were the cookies from Swiss Chalet. In fact, he ate the whole bag of cookies before we even got back in the house.
After hitting up all the stores, we headed to our favorite breakfast haunt for dinner -- The Minuteman -- where all our favorite waitresses were there to hang with Ben. We also left with about a dozen cookies from all his waitress "girlfriends" and a new phrase, "stop it!" which he proclaimed to waitress Diane who was feeding him and missing his mouth. The cookies were fine but the "stop it" I could live without.
Ben's second Halloween proved to be even better than the last with more treats and more fun!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Leapfrog Brings Smiles All Around

I had the pleasure of attending my very first Mommy Blogger Event last Sunday and let me tell you it didn't disappoint. First off, it was held at one of my favorite places in the world -- a Four Seasons Hotel. The food was top notch. I especially loved a mini-chocolate lava-like cake. I should have went back for more but perhaps that is why I am growing larger these days but I digress.
The evening provided for some lively discussion. I was feeling a bit like a failure as a Mom when most of the mothers there were mentioning how they NEVER allowed their children to watch television or play with anything besides wooden blocks. I on the other hand was guilty of letting a child under two watch Noggin (you got love Moose A. Moose) and letting him play with a variety of toys. However, there were a few women who stood up to say that rearing a child is a balance. I also feel that there is too much pressure on children to be perfect. Recalling back to my childhood, I do not remember having to read until we were in the first grade. Has it hurt me in life? No, I consider myself pretty successful but once again I digress.
My husband and I are raising a well-rounded child who loves to have books read to him as much as he loves his "shows". In fact, how can you deny that face a Leapfrog toy? When I brought home the various fridge toys I grabbed (since they only gave me one and I knew he would love the others), he nearly jumped out of his little pants. He literally squealed with excitement and every morning when he goes downstairs for breakfast this is the reaction I get when he sees it again for the first time. Thanks Leapfrog! We will continue to be fans throughout my sons development into a well-rounded boy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Daddy Meet Peppa




Ben has a plastic cow that he needs to travel with while in the car. If he doesn't have it in his hand he throws a fit and the car ride is pretty much torture. The plastic cow's name is Pepper or as Benjamin says, "Peppa" (like the 80s wrap act Salt n' Peppa). How did the name come to be? Why, of course, his favorite cow at the zoo is Pepper.
Since Wally has never been to the Bergen County Zoo, he got his first chance to meet the infamous Pepper at the Zoo Boo event. Ben was super excited to introduce his favorite cow to Daddy. As we rounded the corner and smelt Pepper (sorry Pepper but you do smell), Ben motioned with his hands (like Vanna White presenting the grand prize of a brand new car to the latest Wheel winner) to Pepper and said, "Daddy Peppa!". At last, Daddy finally got to meet Pepper - Ben's favorite cow! And from the pictures above you can see that it was quite a first meeting.

Have You Ever Licked A Book?

Prompted by a comment from a fellow blogger at the Leapfrog event last night, my friend and colleague Melissa, who also attended the event last night, are wondering have you ever licked a book? We haven't but apparently people do. Please take part in the poll to the left of the postings and cast your vote!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Mayor of Zoo Boo

My son is the unofficial Mayor of Zoo Boo at Van Saun Park. No one was giving out the title but I am. As noted, Benjamin has been going to the Bergen County Zoo since he was about 1. He has visited countless times and knows the zoo like no other 20 month old in New Jersey.
The Sunday before Halloween, Grandma got tickets for the entire family to attend Zoo Boo. The campaigning started as we lined up to get in (anyone attending next year - it is a good idea to get there in advance to avoid the crazy lines) the Zoo. A friendly "hi" was said by Ben to those standing in line with us. Next, a hi and a wave for the family in front of us on the train. Then a hi to the volunteers giving out candy then a hi to the animals. The hellos and waves continued throughout the day at the zoo. As we were getting off the carousel and Ben said yet another hi, an older couple commented, "boy, he is friendly guy." I said, "yes, he is running for mayor of the zoo." They smiled. I think we have their votes.

Disturbing News

Wally just told me the most disturbing thing about 5 seconds ago. As we were making the bed, I noticed a booger on Ben's face. We both commented on how sticky his boogers are and that they aren't the kind of boogers you can just flick off. As we both agreed to this fact, Wally proceeded to tell me that the other day he found a booger on Ben and he put it on his sock. I asked Wally to repeat this because I didn't think I heard it right.
"Your sock?"
"Yes, my sock."
"Were you outside?"
"No."
"What about a tissue?"
"There wasn't a tissue around. I was holding him."
"What happened to the booger?"
"I don't know."

I'm Number One


To avoid any confusion, Benjamin is number one. My brother may think he holds the top spot in the heart of my Mom but he is delusional. On October 29, Grandma's birthday, if there was any doubt, Ben solidified his spot yet again.
Before Grandma's birthday, we practiced saying, "Happy Birthday Grandma." When he arrived at her home and I prompted him to say it, in perfect form, he said "Happy" "Happy" "Birday" "GMa" then it became "Happy, Happy BB." Whatever he said, it made my Mom cry. And if that wasn't enough, as a birthday gift from Benjamin, we got Mom a canvas picture of Ben holding out an apple that goes perfectly with the color scheme of her room. Even if the color scheme was off, she would still love it just the same but the color scheme and the adorable look in Ben's eyes that said, "Grandma aren't I number one?" put it over the edge.
So to clarify and put the naysayers to rest, Ben was the one sitting on Mom's lap when it was time to sing Happy Birthday - not my Dad, not Wally, not JB, nor me but Ben her number one.

My Love Of Napping


I have a confession to make. On a lazy day, when there isn't much to do (maybe there is but I don't care), I LOVE to nap. There is nothing in the world like a good nap on a Sunday afternoon. Many a Sunday has been consumed with one of my favorite pastimes - napping. Put a boring football game on the television, a comfy sofa under my butt and it is like the perfect Tylenol PM but without the hangover. Needless to say, since the birth of Benjamin, I haven't gotten to enjoy my pastime. In fact, I haven't had a decent nap in about 20 months (yes, Ben is 20 months). By the way, don't let the picture fool you. This was at bedtime -- MUCH different.
However, I thought my luck was going to change a few weeks ago. The setting was perfect. It was about 4 in the afternoon, the temperature outside was a bit crisp, I was snuggly warm under a big blanket and Benjamin seemed to be occupied with Dad as they watched the football game. I closed my eyes. Then...tap, tap, poke, poke. There was a little finger poking me. When I opened my one eye. I had a little face in my face. I asked Ben to give mommy a break and let her rest a little. He listened and walked away. Eyes closed again. Poke, Poke. Then accompanied by the jabbing of my eyeball was the sound of "baba, baba" (that's what Ben calls me instead of Mom - not because he can't say it but because he feels the need to torture me at times). I tried to ignore him as I heard my husband snickering close by. I asked Ben if he would like to nap with Mommy. He said okay but he didn't mean it. He wiggled and squirmed and continued to poke at my eyelids. I thought never again would I nap. I got up from the couch and gave up on my napping. Maybe when he is fourteen and doesn't care so much about what Mom does. Maybe then I will get to nap again. Until then forget.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Roll In The Hay (Or Grass)

That got you to read my blog but it is not what you think (shame on your dirty mind). Benjamin has now started to mimic Bruin. Where will it end?!
Bruin has a tendency to roll around in the grass to scratch his back (I think) or just be the dog that he is. Benjamin has closely observed this behavior on too many occasions to count. A few weeks back my Mom and Ben were in the backyard playing and Bruin started rolling around in the grass. Upon seeing this, Benjamin plopped down to the ground and began rolling back and forth in the grass as well. Now, like Bruin, Benjamin can't stop doing this. Wherever Ben sees grass, he stops, drops and rolls. Sometimes he just lays there and looks up at the sky. Most people think it is adorable, I somewhat do but I can't stop thinking, "get up, I don't want to deal with lice."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Family Photos

This is very rare. A great family photo. Look we are all smiling and happy -- even Benjamin is cooperating. Don't we look like the perfect family? But more often than not, the family picture is usually Benjamin squirming away or Wally or me looking at Ben trying to get him to look at the camera. And because, the average person walking by that we ask to take our picture usually cuts Wally's head off in the photo, we're usually not optimistic when we go to review the image that the perfect family picture is up next.

I guess it is kind of like life there are very little perfect moments but having Benjamin has made me relish in the moments that aren't so perfect. In fact, those moments tend to be more fun. So when I look at a picture where Wally's eyes are closed, I am making a funny face trying to get Benjamin to smile and Ben is throwing his head back yelling at the both of us, I think -- perfect -- this is my family and I love it -- the perfect and the not-so-perfect moments.

WAL-LY!


I've mentioned that Benjamin has become somewhat of a mimicker. I guess he is at that age. I thank god it is still cute because I am sure with my truck driver mouth (I do really try not to swear in front of him) that he will soon be saying four letter words. I seriously hope not but I am sure it is inevitable. However, now it is so much fun and funny. My new favorite is when he calls for his Dad.
One day, I was looking for Wally and had Benjamin in tow. I couldn't figure out where he was in the house. I called downstairs, "WAL-LY!" I called outside, "WAL-LY!" and then I called upstairs, "WAL-LY!" The next thing I hear is not a response back from Wally but Benjamin at the front landing yelling up the stairs, "WAL-LY! WAL-LY! WAL-LY!" Oh and it hasn't ended there now he just likes to yell out, "WAL-LY!"
Wally doesn't think it is as funny as I do and has tried to have Benjamin call me Jen. But, Ben doesn't find it as fun to yell and hasn't really taken to calling me Jen. However, he can be found yelling "WAL-LY!" around the house quite often and I giggle every time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Official

You can now also find my musings on: http://svmomblog.typepad.com/new_jersey_moms_blog/
My first entry is about the first (and I hope only) time we have left Benjamin with complete strangers (i.e. babysitters). And Dr. R, yes there are some grammatical errors but please forgive me.
Oh yes, dear friends and family make sure you post some comments so it looks like I'm popular and not a blogger who's friends and family only read her blog (while true not...everyone has to believe it).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Violence Is Never The Answer

Is that the face of a child that would beat up his mother? No. Never. Well, it is. On Tuesday, I came into work with a swollen left eye because my son thought violence was the answer. While he has kicked me in the in the face in the middle of the night while crashed out on my bed, he has never intentionally tried to hurt his mother until this time.
It happened Monday night while trying to get him to go to sleep at quarter to ten. I didn't think I was being unreasonable the kid is 19 months and I can barely stay up past ten but he did not agree with my assessment. He wanted to play. I told him no, then Daddy told him no and then he cried - big tears. Wally caved and told him it was okay, but Ben knew I was unhappy with his display. Ben knew that he wasn't going to get one over on the ba-ba or so I thought...
He calmed down a bit and laid down by me on the couch (and for the record I don't have one of those kids that can just be put down in their crib - tried it and if you want to try again be my guest). He still was pretty angry. He started throwing his head back and I said, "Benjamin please stop that you are going to hurt Mommy." His response was to head butt me as hard as he could like some Ultimate Fighting Champion to shut me up. I immediately began to cry. Wally had to reprimand Ben and tell him that was not nice that he really hurt Mommy. Then Benjamin started to cry because he was scared or he knew by crying we would feel bad for him (I believe it was the latter). When he started to cry, I thought "hey, kid this is about me not you". But when he reached up and began to stroke me like he does to Bruin when I say "be nice to Bru", I knew I had to forgive him.
As I sit here still with a swollen eyelid and Benjamin continues to grow as a person, I will continue to remind him that violence is never the answer - unless someone is really asking for it then maybe it is ok. And maybe in his mind that night I was asking for it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Changing The World One Diaper At A Time



Before I had Benjamin, I will admit right here and now. I NEVER changed a diaper. Not one. I also didn't change Ben's diaper until he was about 2-3 weeks old (I had a c-section - doctor's orders). When friends and relatives asked me if they could change Ben's diaper, I said yes with great enthusiasm. Me I don't get the appeal of changing diapers. In fact, I can't wait until we are done with diapers in general. I am an old pro at it now. I can pretty much change Benjamin anywhere and under any circumstances. Call it my new found skill. However, there are people in my family who still have not experienced changing a diaper. Do I fault them? No. Who am I to say anything? If I could have gotten through life without doing it, I would wear it as badge of honor. Last week, it was my brother's turn to take the plunge.

I had a doctor's appointment on my day off. Now usually, I would get my Mom to help out but she was at the dentist. I called up J.B. and asked if he would be willing to help me out for a few hours well I went for a check up. He agreed because any extra time spent with Benjamin is a bonus for him. He arrived on schedule as promised (give or take a few minutes) and Benjamin forgot about Mommy as soon as Uncle was spotted. I gave Benjamin a kiss and few instructions to J.B. and off I went.

While checking out of the doctor's office and getting some instructions, I heard my phone ringing. It was call from my brother's cell probably wondering where I was. Here is how the call went down:

"Jenn where are you?"

"At the doctor's just leaving"

"How far is the doctor's office away"

"About 20 minutes, why is something wrong"

"I think Ben pooped...."

"Do you know where the diapers are?"

"No"

I then go into an explanation of where the diapers are and now the receptionist is curious as to who I am talking to. When I get off the phone, I explain to her that my brother is watching my son and he thinks he pooped. She asks if he is a bachelor and I tell her yes. She now thinks that this is the sweetest thing she is ever heard but I am thinking will he attempt this and if he does will there be poop on my rugs. I call him when I get into the parking lot to tell him to wait but he says he is going to do it. I call my mom to tell her the news -- we both pray Ben is agreeable. Just as I am about to tell my mom about the doctor visit, I get a call from my brother's cell phone. I think this might not be good. I hang up on my mom and get the call from J.B. He tells me everything is good but boy did it smell. I say welcome to the club. I promise myself not to check if the diaper is on correctly until after he leaves.

When I get home, Benjamin and his Uncle are playing with some cars and his clothes seem to be on okay. I also glance at the rug and notice no poop like I feared. When I later check his diaper, I notice that he even put the thing on right. In this Mom's and sister's eyes, this brother of mine is way ahead of the curve. So if there is a diaper changing medal out there I want to give it to my brother not just for his changing skills but for going above and beyond when it comes to his nephew. Congratulations!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

40 Glorious Years

When looking for my soul mate, I always wanted the fairy tale. I wanted to know right away that he was the one. I was looking for a love that would last forever. I guess every girls does but I had a lot to live up to. You see my parents are the fairy tale they live the dream. Forty years ago today, they made a commitment to love, honor and cherish each other so long as they both shall live and they've made that commitment to one another a beautiful life.
Over forty years ago, my Dad was looking at high school head shot pictures in the wallet of my Mom's friend and said, "I have to meet her - that's the girl I'm going to marry." The mutual friend arranged the meeting. They had their first date and both "knew". If you ask either of them when did you first realize that you wanted to marry Mom/Dad? - they would both say that very first date. Less than a year after their first date they were married at Holy Rosary Church in Passaic, NJ with the reception being held in Aunt Dot's backyard. My Mom was just 18 and my Dad was 20.
They have been through some ups and downs. I'm sure some that I am not privy too but I know one thing is true their love has never wavered. They are an inspiration. The type of marriage all should aspire to be like. I am proud to be a product of this beautiful union. I am so blessed to have been raised by parents that love and respect one another and give real meaning to the term soul mate.
When my Dad is asked how long they have been married he alwasy says the amount and with the descriptor "glorious." So today, on their 40th Anniversary I want to say here is to 40 more glorious years of inspirational love.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Our TV in the living room is on the fritz. It is one of those giant televisions - you know the ones that everyone had right before the plasma craze. Wally and I were trying to recall when we got it but neither of us could remember. When we first purchased this monstrosity, we thought "we made it" and now I am thinking that I'm a bit happy it's going because it is such an eyesore.

Because of the "economic crisis", we have decided not to purchase any big ticket items at this time so we have resorted to other tactics for fixing the TV. When you read the next sentence don't think my family is too ghetto but to fix the picture on the TV we hit the TV. Yes, we give the TV a big whack to get the picture to look normal and not so distorted. Wally and I will take turns doing this.

The other day Benjamin was watching Dora and the picture was out of whack so Benjamin got off his monkey chair and gave the TV a smack. Wally and I were left speechless. Monkey see. Monkey do.

Last Will & Testament

As we were getting ready to leave the house for our first plane ride together as a family, Wally had a very morbid thought. In fact, he said, "I know this is a morbid thought but what happens if we all die together on this plane -- where should our assets go since we don't have a will." Now ask me where my first thought went. No not to the house. My savings and stock options? Nope, not that either. Did I think we should really have a will? Not really. My thoughts went right to what would happen to my Chanel.
So to set the record straight, I want to have the Chanel with me in the casket (because I need to look super fabulous even in death) and before they are about to close the casket I want Nadia, my sisterhood in fashion, to reach in there, take it and enjoy my Chanel 2.55 as I know only she can.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First In Flight



This weekend, the Kamienski family reached a new milestone -- Benjamin took his first airplane ride and not since the Wright Brothers has there been such a historic flight. Like the Wright Brothers, it was only fitting that Benjamin take his first airplane journey to the "first in flight" state, North Carolina.
The journey started out with a few turbulent moments like when we realized we were in the wrong terminal and we had to haul ourselves (and bags) from Terminal C to A. Due to the mishap, Benjamin also got an opportunity to take his first monorail ride. We went through security which isn't fun these days when you are traveling by yourself let alone a one and a half year old but once again we survived and passed the inspection with little hassle. Once we got to the gate (an hour before the flight would take off), we let Benjamin get some of his energy out. If getting the energy out means tiring Mom and Dad out then that is what was accomplished. Benjamin thought the gate area was his very large personal playground. During his laps around the gates, he discovered swedish fish candies at the newsstand which he insisted on running to each chance he wiggled away from us yelling "ish" "ish" the whole way. There were others like Benjamin trying to be tired out but once again the only tired ones seemed to be the parents. We finally had to put a stop to the running and tried to read to him which he wanted no part of which made me quite anxious. Not that I wasn't on pins and needles already but I just began thinking that he would never sit still and he would scream his torturous scream and then we would be asked to leave the plane because we couldn't control our child. While I played the bad fantasy in my head, I remembered the "secret weapon"-- Grandpa graciously allowed us to borrow a portable DVD player and the movie "Cars". While Benjamin squirmed and I tried to forward the previews, the movie finally came on and a mesmerizing calmness came over Benjamin and I prayed that this would last. Wally got on the plane first to settle the family in. I was left with the DVD player, a diaper bag, umbrella stroller (no way Bugaboo was making the trip) and Benjamin. I decided we would be last on the plane. As the last passengers boarded, I proceeded to close the DVD player when we were heading for the plane and received one loud, "NO!" Ok, no you are right - what was Mommy thinking! Benjamin held the DVD player while I strolled him to the plane. I then tried to hold Ben, the DVD player (so he could see it and wouldn't scream as we boarded) and a diaper bag while I collapsed the umbrella stroller. Did anyone help me? No. Do I have a third arm I don't know about? I think so. We made it on the plane and was then asked by the flight attendant (actually, told) to shut down the DVD player. That made Benjamin mad so I told him to complain to the air waitress not me. I started to read a book which didn't help but Wally took him and showed him what was outside the window which amazed him. Shortly after we put on "Cars", the skies were much friendlier. Not a peep was made - he maybe got cranky once but no meltdowns, no stares of disapproval, in fact, I thought we might get a few, "what a good boy you have."
As I counted down the minutes, I realized we made it. Our Benjamin was an angel in the air. I turned and looked down at my boy who had fallen fast asleep and breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we had accomplished yet another parenting hurdle.

I LOVE FREE STUFF


We just got FREE HP Colorsmart printers! Retail value $199.99. Ok, I will forgive Martha for the cookies.

Martha Just Made a Boo-Boo


Martha just called Sarah Palin - Sharon. Yikes and now someone just told her. She is embarassed. Everyone gets embarassed -- some just get embarassed on a bigger stage than others.

No Cookies?!?


What no cookies Martha? Where are the cookies to share with the audience? I'm a little disappointed. The cookies looked mighty delicious but I could just look at them longingly. No fair! I would rather have a cookie than a calendar or book. I'm hungry! I'm also with a pregnant lady who seriously needs a cookie. I mean not giving me a cookie is one thing but not providing one for a woman eating for two is just wrong!

15 Minutes of Fame


This week I am somewhat famous. My 15 minutes of fame are upon me. It all started with my appearance on Ace of Cakes. Was I happy with my appearance? Well...if you have a Tivo or DVR, I looked like a linebacker walking out of the back of the Milk-Bone doghouse if you slowed it down (which a few friends and family did and agreed with my assessment). To set the record straight, I don't walk like that. I never have, not a day in my life. Not really sure why I was walking like I had just pumped some iron. Of course, it is preserved now on film...
Next, I am NOW (I mean right now) on the Martha Stewart Show. I mean right now!! Martha is producing a show on bloggers. About 10 seconds ago, we just got a calendar from a blogger who publishes cute pictures of animals and I think we are also getting a book. Oh yes, we just did. I am in the back row so not sure if I am going to be getting my second moment of fame this week. SHOW THE BACK! Make sure you are watching at 11 a.m. today! See if my fame continues and if I have to avoid the paparazzi and wear dark sunglasses from now on. Our the pressures of stardom.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm Addicted





I'm addicted! Whether I am having a good day or bad, I crave Benjamin's hugs and kisses. A hug and/or kiss from Benjamin melts your heart. It makes you feel better than any high you've ever experienced. And Benjamin just doesn't gingerly give his love - he is pretty intense about it too. When he gives you a hug, he squeezes as tight as his little body can and actually gives a grunt - just so you know (if there was ever any question) that you are being hugged. As for his kisses, he thinks he is starring in a movie. He moves in with his eyes closed and his mouth open and smacks one right on your lips. In fact, he loves to steal kisses from little girls (which Mom needs to put an end to) like his some sort of Romeo. Now, he can be a typical child. He sometimes can be stingy with his love by giving you the cheek or making his arms go limp refusing to give out his affection. But his Mommy and Daddy are rarely given the cold shoulder from Benjamin, in fact, we call him a lovey boy because of all of his hugs and kisses.
What an amazing thing! What a beautiful gift! What a blessing!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Bomb Squad

There are times in your life when you wake up one day and something is different for some reason. It's usually insignificant like a creaky step in the stairs that for some reason doesn't make a sound, the way the sun comes through the curtains when it had always been blocked or just a feeling inside where you know something has changed but you are unsure what exactly. What I have noticed is that however the change shows itself, one thing has always been true. Change, to me, feels good because it is like a new beginning. Afterall, the saying goes that the one constant in life is change.

This past rainy Saturday, I decided to act on my awaited plan to rearrange the living room. Not that it particularly needed it, but mostly because I was tiring of the sameness of it. So, while attampting to fix the satellite cable, I moved the TV to the other side of the room and managed to get our 800 pound counch across the floor. Jenn came in and asked "Oh, are we changing the living room, now?" I said yes and informed her that we talked about this. Truth be told, we did talk about it and both agreed the 800 pound library was not in the best place for Ben and his playing habits. We did not, though, discuss and agree to how the change would be done.

Regardless, Jenn helped me in moving the furniture around, herself removing sliders from under the cabinet, and took herself away from something else (blogging) she was in the middle of. Once she saw the configuration I proposed, she recommended moving the couch to the other wall and arranging the chairs another way. It worked and is now done.

Jenn is selfless in alot ways and this is certainly one of the better examples. I usually spring things on her and without (much) hesitation, she always (somewhat reluctantly) is willing to take herself away from her plans and help me with mine. I usually let her know my appreciation by letting her know she is 'the bomb'. After this most recent episode, she is now to be known as 'the bomb squad' for being the bigger person when it comes to working through change.

Thanks Bomb Squad. You're the best.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Are You There God? It's Me Kristi.

Editors Correction: I was reminded it was not actually a pencil but a frisbee that Krisit and Billy still had until Frosty (the stray dog she picked up on the side of the road that ultimately ran away) broke it.
So many of my favorite memories throughout my life have one key component and the key to those wonderful memories are my best friend Kristi. Recently, I was reminded of one of my favorites after Wally and Benjamin visited Space Farm Zoo.
In the Fifth Grade, Kristi and I were preparing to receive Penance. Since we were best friends, we thought it would be a good idea to run our sins past one another before we talked with the priest. Here is how the conversation went:
Jenn - I think I will tell Father Roland that I was mean to my brother and swore sometimes
Kristi - Yeh, me too
Jenn - I'll probably also tell him I talked back to my Mom
Kristi - I'll probably say that too but I have one other thing
Jenn - What is it?
Kristi - I'm not sure if I want to tell
Jenn - Tell me! I'm your best friend
Kristi - Well ok. Do you remember when we want to Space Farm Zoo for our class trip in the first grade?
Jenn - Yeh, of course I remember
Kristi - Well, I forgot to get something for Billy so I had pick him something out quick. So I picked out a pencil. As I was waiting on line to pay, I was told that I had to leave now. So, I stole the pencil.
I was in shock! My best friend stole. Would she ever be forgiven? In our minds, this sin was bigger than any other sins we both committed. But being a supportive friend I said, "I'm sure God will forgive you and your penance won't be that bad." And I was right God did forgive her and her penance wasn't that bad. Besides, it would have been far worse if Billy hadn't gotten a gift - he would probably still bring it up today.
In our lives, there were many more sins we confessed to each other but none so memorable as the souvenir stolen from Space Farm. Happy Birthday Kristi to a friend I can confess anything to!

One Gift



What do you give to the parents who have given you everything in life? A gift that will show them they mean the world to you. Well, I can tell you there aren't many gifts that even come close.

Over the years, I have tried to give them gifts that have given them an idea of how much they mean to me, but most fall short until June 06. In June of 2006, I gave them the promise of the greatest gift (I know they will agree) they would ever receive. You see on that beautiful sunny day, I gave them the news that they would be grandparents. Because that is the thing about being a grandparent - no matter how much you want to be one, it, ultimately, depends on two other people (in our case a whole cast of very able medical professionals) and the grace of God. It is a gift only your child can give to you -- the greatest gift your child can give to you.

My parents have always been proud of me but I never saw them look at me in such awe and admiration as when I was pregnant caring inside of me their grandchild. And when their grandchild was finally born, the sheer joy I brought to my parents life could never be measured.

Benjamin is the light of their lives. It is one time I don't mind playing second fiddle for my parents' attention. When I see my parents with Benjamin, it brings me back to my childhood and reminds me again and again how much love my parents brought into my life. They are the best of the best and even better. They love my son with all their hearts and then some.
Much of who Benjamin is becoming is because of their love for their grandson. When he is in their presence, nothing else in the world matters. Benjamin laughs and laughs when he is with his Grandma and Grandpa because when they are together nothing is more important than having fun. Just like my parents would move mountains for my brother and me, my parents would move heaven and earth for their Benjamin. So, on Grandparents Day I know no card or some silly gift will equal the gift I have given them of being called Grandma and Grandpa by one little boy named Benjamin. Happy Grandparents Day!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mystery Solved




In a recent blog (Hi My Name is Benjamin And I Am A Zoo-a-holic), I mentioned a half zebra/half horse looking beast that we had no clue what it was or even if it was a real animal. Well, wonder no more my friends - MYSTERY SOLVED!
On a recent visit to the Bronx zoo, as we entered the Congo exhibit I began to round a corner and I stopped dead in my tracks. In front of me was the elusive, no-named animal in the flesh. Was I seeing things? Could this actually be real and then it moved confirming that indeed this thing was real. I started to jump in excitement, "Wally there it is! There it is!" Wally could hardly believe his eyes either. We began to feverishly look for a sign. The anticipation was killing us. We rounded two more corners and finally came upon a little sign. This is it. The moment was finally here. For months I wondered what this animal could be and we were about to know. Wally proudly announced, "it is an Okapi." An Okapi? Yes, an Okapi!
So now when we ask Ben "what is that animal you have in your hand?" He answers, "kapi."
Case closed.

Fun Facts - While many might think that the Okapi is related to the Zebra (which I definitely concluded), it is actually related to the giraffe (very similar head shape). To learn more about the Okapi, you can check out the "animal bytes" page from the San Diego Zoo Web site http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-okapi.html .

Bru!


For a very long time, it had just been Wally, Bruin and me. So when we found out we were pregnant we were worried about how Bruin would be with a baby. Bruin has never been a vicious dog. In fact, I can't recall Bruin every snapping at someone, let alone a child. However, he has tried to hump a few innocent children but in his defense it was before the removal of his (former) favorite two friends. We were also concerned because Bruin can tend to be jealous of Wally showing anyone else attention besides him. We thought about taking a class or taking him to a class to learn "how to adjust" but we decided to wing it.
Before we brought Ben home, we gave Bruin the blanket Ben was wrapped in when he was first born to get accustomed to Benjamin's scent (I saw this on some Baby Story episode and also heard it from someone else that I can't recall at this moment). According to my father-in-law, who was taking care of Bruin while we were all in the hospital, he took one sniff and walked away. When Benjamin was brought home, he performed a similar act. We brought Benjamin over and Bruin sniffed him a few times and walked away. When Benjamin would cry in the night and not many of us were getting sleep Bruin would let out a big sigh and leave the bedroom looking back at us thinking, "hey guys wasn't it good when it was just the three of us?" But as time went on Bruin got used to the fact and started being very protective of Ben. When ever he would cry, he would pace the floor and be right by his side. He even started to get brave enough to give his feet a little lick every now and then.
Over time, Bruin and Benjamin formed such a bond that one of Ben's first words was Bru -- yes way before Mom. In the past few months, Benjamin has become more active (that is putting it mildly) and has wanted to become more interactive with Bru. Now, he likes to pet him and give him big hugs. And Bruin, is the world's most tolerant dog. For a dog of 9 years of age, he has the patience of Job. When Benjamin decided to try to ride him like a pony, Bruin just sat there and let the Ben have his fun. When Ben grabs his ears a little too rough, he doesn't make a peep. When Ben squats down right in Bruin's face while he is trying to eat, Bruin ignores him and continues to finish his dinner.
While it may seem Bruin only tolerates Ben, he actually loves him a lot. Sometimes Wally or I will say, "Ben give Bru a kiss" and before Benjamin can bend down Bruin turns around and licks his face something silly which makes Ben squeal in laughter which makes Wally and I smile knowing that we have two wonderful boys.